Is there a more perfect first post for my traveling teacher blog than an entry into the Thomas Cook Explore the Elements contest? I think not. Here’s some of my favorite travel photo picks from recent travels that I’ll be discussing more on this blog! Stay tuned!


Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness, physicality and gravity.


The Elkhorn Slough is the perfect demonstration of the collectiveness of Earth and mother nature. The slough itself is a 7-mile-long tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay. A narrow arm of the sea, it reaches inland, crooking north at the elbow and ending in a thin finger. Unknown to most visitors, this small embayment is adjacent to a huge underwater chasm named the Monterey submarine canyon. Stretching more than 25 miles out into the Pacific and more than a mile down from the water’s surface, the Monterey Canyon could hold the Grand Canon of the Colorado River. From open beaches at the Monterey Bay’s edge, to pickleweed marshes and mudflats, to woodlands and prairies in the uplands, the Elkhorn Slough is home to a great variety of habitats and a vast and diverse population of plant and animal life. I love this photo because it captures a little bit of that diversity and variety of the Elkhorn Sloughs. From Harbor Seals and otters, to pelicans and hundreds of other species of birds, this National Estuarine Reserve has it all—and is existing together in perfect harmony.


Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.


In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck writes: “A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.” This is the perfect description of a sunset. They’re beautiful—but fleeting—and I love watching the sun actually move through the sky only to disappear beyond the horizon.


Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit.


Conch shells, or Pū as they are known in Hawaii, are considered a gift from the ocean. Pū are a deep seated part of Hawaiian culture, coming out of the life-giving waters with a sound that flows across the ‘Aina (land). The blowing of the Pū has multiple meanings in both Religious and secular traditions, including marking the official beginning before a ceremony, a call to the divine, symbolizing the journey of the Ancient Hawaiians, and the Eternal moment. In ancient times the blowing of the Pū was used to communicate across the waters between people on canoes and those on land. It was often used to request permission to come to the shore and step foot upon the land with permission or denial returned by those on shore with blowing the conch shell back with a certain number of blows. In modern days the Pū is often blown to say Goodbye at sunset to end the day and to say Mahalo (thanks). I love that this ceremony lives on in Hawaiian culture and is still performed by the Hawaiian people today.


Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom.


To describe Muir Woods in one word, I’d use the word daunting. If you want to feel small, take a walk through the towering coastal Redwoods. The redwoods themselves dominate the scene, but upon closer examination you can see the incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Ladybugs cluster by the thousands on ancient horsetail ferns. Plants adapt to low light levels on the forest floor, blanketing the ground in lush vegetation. Animals bustle in the canopy above. When I saw this photo come together it felt like a special opportunity to capture such a beautiful balance between something minuscule and intricate that is often dwarfed and overlooked in such a gigantic, majestic setting. The sun glistened through the dense layer of treetops, highlighting the web dripping with dew and moving with the heartbeat of the forest. There is so much life and so much happening within these giant trees when you take a closer look, and I love that this photo reminds me of that.

My Nominations:

How You Can Enter:

  1. Publish an Explore the Elements post on your blog with an image for each element or as many as you want to capture.
  2. Nominate 5 of your fellow bloggers to take part.
  3. Notify Thomas Cook that you’ve entered by tweeting @ThomasCookUK or emailing them with a link to your post before the competition closes on March 16.
  4. Thomas Cook and the competition judges will share and retweet some of their favorite Explore the Elements posts throughout the contest’s 8 week duration so be sure to follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts closely!
  5. Every Explore the Elements blog entry will be judged by the 4 judges with each judge selecting an element category winner to receive either a Fujifilm camera, an Apple MacBook Air, or an Apple iPhone 6 with Bose noise-canceling headphones depending on their choice.  The judges will then work together to select the overall winner of the 5,000 travel fund. For further information about the judging and the prizes see the Terms & Conditions by clicking the link below.
  6. Terms and Conditions

See more at http://www.thomascook.com/blog/holiday-competitions-deals/explore-the-elements.


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